During the 2020 NBA offseason, the Milwaukee Bucks re-signed two-guard Pat Connaughton to a three-year, $16 million contract.
The move wasn’t the most well-received by fans, with most calling the contract an overpay. Most thought of his performances in the playoffs during the 2020 NBA Bubble, where his minutes steadily declined. The narrative around the contract seems to have flipped since that time, though. Connaughton has emerged as a key contributor off of the Bucks bench and has only become more of a fan favorite than he already was prior to his new contract.
Why Pat Connaughton’s contract is a steal for the Milwaukee Bucks
Connaughton’s role has increased since he first arrived in Milwaukee during the 2018-2019 season. Some has to do with injuries to players such as Donte DiVincenzo, but a majority of his newfound role can be attributed to Connaughton’s growth as a player.
When he first arrived in Milwaukee, Connaughton was a very athletic guard that wasn’t exactly seen as a threat from the outside. Joining a team coached by Mike Budenholzer that excels on offense with great spacing, Connaughton was going to need to improve as a shooter. During his years in Milwaukee, he has been able to turn himself into a threat from 3-point territory on top of his ability to soar high for a big slam. Last season, Connaughton attempted the most threes that he ever has in a single season in his career and increased his three-point percentage by 4 percent from the previous season, shooting 37 percent.
What he will most be remembered for are his heroics during the Bucks championship run last season. After an injury to starting shooting guard Donte DiVincenzo during the team’s first round playoff series vs. Miami, Connaughton was thrust into a much bigger role than expected. In that role, Connaughton shined. He continued to make big shot after big shot and continued to have moments that will make Connaughton a recognizable figure in Milwaukee forever.
He shined the brightest during the NBA Finals against Phoenix. Every critic of the contract given to Connaughton was seemingly silenced as he torched the Suns’ defense every time he was on the floor. Connaughton made 15 threes in the series, the second-most of any player on the team. The biggest of them all came in Game 4, one of the most critical shots of the series, where he buried a three with three minutes left to put the Bucks up by two.
Most will remember Game 4 as the game where Khris Middleton scored 40 points, but Connaughton may have been the most important player in the game. He led the team in +/- with a total of +21 when he was on the floor and made big shots when the team needed him the most.
When Connaughton initially signed his contract during the 2020 offseason, it drew a lot of negative energy from the fans, and rightfully so after his performances in the 2020 playoffs. A lot of the hate towards the deal has seemed to have died down in recent months after he came through for the Bucks on the NBA’s biggest stage.